Fort Smith – Small Town with History

in the form of an amazing museummus ‘The Northern Life Museum’ . It’s in a two story building and some outdoor grounds. I went in the downstairs door which was the wrong entrance oh well I didn’t have to climb the stairs. Once on the main floor I was drawn to this large white bird, and Canus was its name. I had never seen a whooping crane stuffed, in captivity or the wild it is an extremely rare bird, almost extinct . This bird helped bring back the species as of 2017 there are an estimated 505 in the wild. Canus got his name because Canada and the United States worked together to breed this crane and do research to help increase the population. He sired 187 chicks and lived to be 40 years old. He was found in Wood Buffalo National Park with a broken wing. The wing had to be amputated I have to say that was a good thing for the species in retrospect. muscanusI am glad I was able to catch the buffalo in the wild but they also had to rather large stuffed ones on display. musbufOn a side note I was not able to see or hear a whooping crane in the wild.

Another aspect to the museum was to see the involvement of the Roman Catholic missionaries (the Oblate Fathers and Grey Nuns) influenced the development of the early settlement of Fort Smith. The mission was a one stop shop for the native people because they started providing education, religious instruction and health care. In fact the nuns were involved with the area until 1979 when a clinic opened. musnunThe hospital treated many with tuberculosis which was prevalent in the native people. This location on the Slave River was perfect for a settlement as it lies in an area where several rapids occur and canoes had to be portaged. Only natural that a trading post would spring up and continue to grow with the help of The Hudson’s Bay Co. mustrapThere is even a replica of a trapper’s cabin.

One thing I did not know about the war is the part that this area played in helping the US in winning World War II. musewarThe AlCan was built in BC and the Yukon so Alaska could have protection in the chance that the Japanese would attack. This area had a connection to water and mines and oil wells muswar3  in Norman Wells so the Canol Project was embarked upon. The museum guide also mention the project was vital in providing material for the Manhattan Project, in fact there is still trace amounts of radioactive material near Fitzgerald which is where the boats were loaded. It is interesting how well our countries worked together. If you ever have a chance this museum is well worth it.

After exploring the inside I decided to step back in history with the replica of a traditional village, the explaination plaques went into great detail down to how the dogs were cared  for plus how the fish was turned into food by drying them on a fish stage. For all my geocaching buddies I found a dry cache plus a cold cache none of which I could log. In the villages the dry cache was used to store foods off the ground that could be ruined by winter or vermin.musdry  Just a few steps up a ladder and you have a pantry even though it was outdoors. The cold cache was what I would call a fruit cellar dug into the ground. I walked down the stairs and it was at least ten degrees coolermuscold. The building that wasn’t open was the smokehouse mussmokethere was enough wood to last a while for demonstration purposes. The center piece of the village is the tipi it had a very inviting air to it so I ducked my head inside. mustee Having the history all in one place made this stop a must do.  ftsmithcpThe campground we stayed at was named for Queen Elizabeth the Second after her visit to the Northwest Territories and the have a dedication stone right in the campground ftsmithcpl. ftsmithcpl2This whole area is filled with history and charm.  If that hasn’t gotten you in the mood to visit Fort Smith even has it’s own golf course ftsmithgolfRoy had to at least try to drive to the end of what roads we still could,  This was accomplished by visiting the town of Fitzgerald pop 8,_Alberta at the end of NWT 5 fitzendI have really enjoyed my time in these small towns you can walk in anywhere and feel like you belong.

3 thoughts on “Fort Smith – Small Town with History

  1. Small town folks up here in the Northwest Territory have been very friendly. Guess it’s easy to tell we aren’t ‘locals’ … with 2 spare tires riding on top of the car and California license plates …

    We’ve had a number of people walk right up and start discussions about where we are from and how we like their area … and really give us a warm welcome. Stopping for gas is great too … most of the stations have been ‘FULL SERVICE’ at no added cost.

    “NO” … more tourists is NOT a good idea. We are keeping this area a secret … now forget that you ever read anything … !!

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  2. Gosh, more overlap. When I moved to Laurel Maryland in 1988, I started volunteering at Patuxent Wildlife Refuge which is where CAN-US went to live and contribute. I actually “met” him and his family, though I didn’t have anything to do with their program. I was a docent at the cool headquarters building…

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